am i really an introvert?

Yes and no. That’s the simple answer, of course. I mean, none of us are completely introverted or extroverted; we’re all floating somewhere in between. So, what I really mean is–Am I really more introverted than extroverted?

Being socially anxious, I think it’s easy for me to automatically assume that I am an introvert, and label myself as such.

In fact, all my life I’ve been labeling myself introverted and shy, and yet in social situations I desperately want attention–I’m just too afraid to get it. My perfectionism keeps me from talking and obtaining attention which further fuels my social anxiety. Inside I am a narcissist, and I really, really want attention. But when the spotlight is on me–I mean really on me–I do what I can to get it off me as quickly as possible because I’m afraid of being judged, and as soon as it’s off there’s a sense of relief but not long after that I feel like crap again because I want that attention back. It’s a lose-lose situation.

I wonder how many of us out there, who are socially anxious, are actually more extroverted than introverted?

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22 responses to “am i really an introvert?

  1. I am an extreame extrovert and also suffer from severe social anxiety. Most people don’t believe me or understand when I tell them I have anxiety issues. Makes for a confusing gong show type of life

    • Hey Vicki. It’s hard for people to understand that even though you’re at ease and outgoing on the outside, you’re having a totally different experience on the inside. People judge behavior, but that only tells part of the story. Thanks for commenting!

  2. It’s interesting isn’t it. Half the time when I want to be by myself I can’t decide whether it’s because I’m too anxious about the alternative (i.e. being around people) or if it’s because it’s just my intrinsic introvertedness (that’s a word right? 😛 ). Like you, I’ve always assumed I’m an introvert but then I do sometimes enjoy being the centre of attention if it’s for a positive reason.

    • It’s so strange. I sometimes crave being the center of attention, and at times, when I am the center, I feel very comfortable. I’m not sure if it’s extroversion per se, or if it’s more just needing to be seen and heard so very, very badly. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  3. Good question. I think the definition of an introvert though is that a person gains energy from being alone, and needs to recuperate from time spent with others, while an extrovert gains energy from time spent with others, and feels depleted by time alone. It’s a continuum. Wanting attention is a bit different IMO, as we all need a certain amount of that from others, regardless of our personality type.

    Personally I am a mild introvert I think, because I get a lot out of time spent with others, but prefer close friends to big parties. I need a certain amount of time alone every day, but not all day. And I’m socially anxious, so that confuses the picture, and makes social occasions difficult for a different reason than my personality. If that makes sense.

    It’s a great distinction to make – our anxiety just confuses and obscures our real personalities.

    • Very good points. Often times the terms introversion and shyness are used interchangeably as well as extroversion and outspokenness, etc. I guess what I was really driving at is that when we think of the typical person with social anxiety, we think of someone shy and introverted and maybe even antisocial. I think for myself at least, I need to re-think those labels.

  4. I think craving attention might also have something to do with wanting to be “validated” by others, without necessarily making the same person extroverted. Everybody wants to matter, and attention can be a way to be shown that one matters – while at the same time causing feelings of discomfort. At least that is the case with me, sometimes.

    It’s a sliding scale, really. On some days I just want to be by myself and enjoy it, on others I get depressed when alone. Also, it depends hugely on who I am spending time with – with close friends whom I see as my “equals” and who I trust, I am much more extroverted than with work colleagues, for example – but even when with my friends, I’m more prone to listening than leading a discussion. People I hardly know don’t get to see much of me as a person, but rather a facade that doesn’t give away much and hardly ever actively participates in social activities.

    I think of myself as an introvert, because I am more leaning towards that end of the spectre, but how much of an introvert I really am depends on my mood, on the people I am with, and on what my thoughts are occupied with at that time. There are minor changes from day to day, but I never go past the point where you could call me extroverted.

    • I think you said what I wanted to say better than I did. 🙂 It is more of an attention thing–and the need for validation–which is not necessarily tied to extroversion. It does also depend on my mood, the situation, and who I’m with. We sound very much alike.

  5. The original definition of an “introvert” according to Jung who came up with the typology meant that the way a certain person recharges themselves, is to to spend time in introspection, usally away from others…And an extrovert feels reanimated “doing” things, meeting people, focusing on the sensate world..I consider myself a social introvert, but definitely an introvert and proud of it ; )

    • Yeah, I mentioned in an earlier comment about using the terms introversion and shyness interchangeably. My issues are more about wanting and needing attention in social situations, less about actually feeling “recharged” by them. I do enjoy being active and engaging with the world, but usually by myself. Who knows where I lie on the spectrum. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  6. It’s an interesting question, whether those of us who we think are introverts are actually extroverts who have social anxiety. I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert. But then I guess it’s a continuum and a lot of people fall between the two extremes.

    • After giving it more thought, the real question I was trying to ask is- Am I an outgoing socially anxious person. I do think I’m more introverted, but in the midst of a social situation, I like/need/want the attention.

    • Glad I’ve finally found something I agree with!

  7. Could relate to your words here. I too at times want the attention, but too afraid to step out. Blessings and thanks for sharing.

  8. I wonder the same thing, I guess I’d probably be labeled as an introvert if you have to pick one or the other but I feel like it doesn’t fit me in a lot of ways sometimes, and think I am somewhere in between.

    • Hi Brittany. I imagine we’re all somewhere in between, moving more towards introversion or extroversion depending on the situation. I think it’s important to be mindful of that because labels can be a powerful thing as they can limit us. Thanks for the comment!

  9. Hey, Mike. Have been reading your blog and wanted to post a few times but somehow didn’t. Not exactly sure why. Perhaps, I’m still waiting for “the mud to settle” and when I have a better view of what I went through and how each part relates to the others, thinking and talking about it might be easier.

    Labels are interesting. I remember reading one of your earlier posts where you talked about being introvert and I had a sense you were using it instead of shyness. The above definitions of “being recharged” are interesting. In a way it may be the same thing but in essence (to me) intro/extroversion kind of mean preference while shyness, SA and all the other fear based labels are avoidance. For the most part I’m definitely an introvert. I don’t mind being by myself and do like activities where I can work alone. Also, I don’t feel lonely if I have to spend long periods of time by myself. Almost like a hermit. In some respect, I would say that for these last couple of years I didn’t even keep contact with friends – waiting for the remaining symptoms to disappear. Overall, it feels like this is what I needed and I’m fine with it.

    As far as SA goes, although it used to be very different, now, if I have to, I’m fine being around others. My current social activities primarily involve going to an SA support group but it’s more of a progress check rather than practice. However, in the past even “simply” attending a meeting would have started the SA process (usually the night before), now, as far as symptoms go, there is only the tension – even when I’m the host of the evening. Very different from how I used to feel. Almost feel like a “normal” person. Finally, after soooooooo many years.

    I agree that intro / extroversion can depend on people / situation. There are situations, people where I do participate and there are those where I’m not interested. In my case ,the difference is that in the past many times when I did want to participate SA stopped my from doing so. Not anymore. Now, I can.

  10. Hey VanDamme. It’s always good to hear from you. Your words always inspire me. You know exactly what it’s like, and you’ve been to the bottom per se and have made your way back up. You seem very content with who you are. Getting to that point is not easy, but it’s very important in my opinion. I really need to get more involved in with the SA people in my community. Anyway, take care, and thanks for the comment.

  11. livingvictoriously

    I am introverted as well as I have SAD. I hate going out, but I like doing my grocery shopping at Walmart b/c it is the only place where I can get lost in a sea of people. And the only person I need to talk to is the cashier… Marie.

    • On the one hand, I love small, independent, mom and pop stores because I believe they are better for the community and the planet. On the other hand, there is something comforting in getting lost in the bog box stores. Sometimes you don’t have to interact with anyone if there’s a self-checkout line. Fortunately, where I live, I have to go to the small stores, as there are really no big box stores. It forces me to connect. I need a little push.

  12. One thing is for sure: being extraverted and socially anxious must be something really frustrating to experience and deal with on a daily basis. I am an introvert and happy to be. But nothing is black and white. Being introverted doesn’t mean not-interested-in-typical-extroverted-activities. It just means when I need to fill up my energy batteries, I like being by myself better than being surrounder by people. Once my batteries are filled up, yes I might just go to a friends gathering downtown (if I manage to get more control over anxiety…)

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